In the Show – 16th March 2010

For movie buffs, Steven Berkoff is best known as a villain. He’s threatened and intimidated the good guys in Octopussy, Beverly Hills Cop, and Rambo: First Blood Part II, among others. For drama aficionados though, he’s better known for the role he’s played in English theatre since the 1960s. The actor, playwright and director is one of the earliest practitioners, and one of the foremost champions, of physical theatre, which emphasizes physical expression and body language to tell the story. This week he’s in Hong Kong, as director of, and performer in, “On the Waterfront”.

Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” was published in 1818. In it, scientist Victor Frankenstein takes on himself the power of the Gods, creating a creature in man’s image. But the creature, isolated and craving love, becomes a monster. Almost 200 years later, and after numerous adaptations of “Frankenstein” into film and drama, the Chung Ying Theatre Group is bringing it to the Hong Kong stage for the first time.

The combination of Tim Burton and “Alice in Wonderland” seemed perfect. Unfortunately, in the eyes of our reviewer Gary Pollard, the new Disney film just uses Lewis Carroll’s characters in a story that has nothing to do with Alice whatsoever. She’s even become a nineteen year old.

Lao She was born in 1899. He died in 1966, an apparent victim of the Cultural Revolution, found drowned in a Taiping Lake, after a “struggle” session. In his writing and life he had been a firm believer in the socialist ideal. Lao wrote around fifty plays, as well as dramas and short stories. The play “Teahouse”, published in 1957, is considered one of the most significant in 20th century Chinese theatre. Many of his novels have also been adapted to stage and film. Premiered in Hong Kong last week, “Five Acts of Life” is the first attempt to bring any of his numerous short stories to the stage. It’s directed by prominent Chinese theatre director, Lin Zhaohua.

Click here for streaming video of the show.

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